Aug 25, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: The OH NO Plan

USEA/ Olivia Airhart photo

We’ve spent the summer discussing different ways to overcome the kind of things that can overwhelm you and more specifically the three different plans you can use to control your emotions when they risk taking control of you. The plans we’ve discussed so far all fall under the category of pre-ride routines and they include the "normal plan" (routines you do pre-ride when everything goes according to plan), the "quickie plan" (routines you do pre-ride when you’re late or rushed) and the "hurry-up-and-wait plan" (routines you do pre-ride when encountering a delay). Your brain craves the perception of control and anything that breaks that perception, including rushing or delays, can often lead to feelings of fears, frustrations, doubt, disappointment, pressure, and panic. The role of these plans is to simply give your brain the perception of control that it so badly craves.

This month’s Pressure Proof tip falls under the routine category, but not of the pre-ride variety. I like to call this month’s tip the OH NO plan and it doesn’t happen before an event like the others. It happens during it- as in “Oh no I lost a stirrup/pulled a rail/forgot my course!" As you’ve already guessed, the OH NO plan is a routine you'll use when you encounter an unexpected challenge in the middle of a ride; like between fences three and four, questions eight and nine, or as you enter at A. For this reason, this plan is called a prime-ride-ritual because it occurs in the prime of the ride.

Like all routines, the idea behind the OH NO plan is that you can’t predict problems, but you can prepare for them. Plan your ride & ride your plan is a common phrase often associated with this kind of routine and one that’s especially important in the prime of the ride because unexpected problems can so quickly derail your train of thought.

So what happens when your train of thought jumps the track? What happens when you’re doing everything right but it still goes wrong? You’re having an amazing ride but your handy horse uncharacteristically refuses a fence and you end up on his neck? What happens when you encounter an unexpected challenge such as losing your stirrup, a surprise like your horse losing a shoe, or disappointment like losing your memory mid-course? Well, this is the time for your OH NO plan - a pre-defined routine that begins every time you hear yourself saying, “Oh no” or “Oh my gosh” or whatever other four-letter word you come up with! The good news is that while you might lose your stirrup, shoe, or memory, this kind of plan will keep you from losing your mind.

As you can imagine, the OH NO plan needs to be really quick because you’ve only got a second or two to figure out how to act and react to the challenge. This means that it needs to be committed to memory before you ride so it’s ready to go when you are. Sadly, you probably just won’t have the time to come up with any good options in the heat of the moment.

So what kind of plan can help keep you from losing your mind after you’ve lost your focus? Well, perhaps something as simple as repeating “shake it off" while shanking your shoulders and scratching your horse or taking a deep breath while saying “rest-of-the-ride-best-of-the-ride” at the same time as patting your horse. While these actions and reactions might seem small, you might just be surprised at what a big difference they can make.

So this month create your very own OH NO plan, memorize it, and be prepared to use it because sooner or later you’re going to bump into an unexpected surprise, challenge, or disappointment. The good news is that this is exactly the kind of routine that will help you to hold it together when it would be normal to fall apart!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and the three other pre-ride routines I spoke about earlier this summer. Give them all a try and if you’d ever like to teach equestrian sport psychology classes, clinics or seminars just let me know! I’m hosting my next instructor certification class in Florida this November. Visit Pressure Proof Academy or email me for more info!

Oct 05, 2022 USEA Foundation

Strides For Equality Equestrians Announces ‘SEE Month’ Fundraising Drive in October

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Oct 05, 2022 Competitions

Fast Facts: 2022 Morven Park International

And just like that, it is time for the Morven Park International! The prestigious event will take place Thursday, October 6, and run through Sunday, October 10 in Leesburg, Virginia. This is the event’s second year offering the CCI4*-L division, in addition to their CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI2*-S divisions. That’s not all! The historic grounds at Morven Park will also host national divisions at the Novice, Training, and Preliminary levels.

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Oct 04, 2022 Hall of Fame

Connections of Great Event Horse Eagle Lion Offered Invitation to USEA Eventing Hall of Fame

This year a new class will be joining the 47 eventing legends currently in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded within the sport of eventing in the United States. Those invited to join the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame have truly made a difference in the sport of eventing. Hall of Fame members have included past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founders, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, and coaches.

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